Preparing for War
Disclaimer: The Buffyverse belongs to many people and organizations. I am not one of them. The same holds true for The Dresden Files.New City, Same Enemy
Chapter 5: Preparing for War
“White Phosphorous Grenades, Mr. Wyndam-Pryce? This is Chicago, not the Middle East.” Marcone said over steepled fingers, leaning back slightly in his chair. A man in Marcone's position did not do business from only one place, and Wesley would estimate that he had at least two dozen safehouses of various quality and security scattered around the city and its suburbs, let alone anywhere else. At the moment, Wesley was meeting his employer in a health club/brothel called 'Executive Priority Health'. The highest floor contained several offices for the administration of the whole place as well as one for when Marcone chose to operate out of there.
“Wolfram and Hart is not your typical enemy either, Mr. Marcone. And more importantly, while Chicago may not resemble a warzone in the traditional sense, Undertown certainly will. Wolfram and Hart will be active there, as a primary stage of operations here, and a great deal of the early combat will be there. They will find it will not be easy to make the entire place theirs, but by the time the fight there dies down to just a low-burn, Undertown will be, in part, in their hands. The more firepower I have to work with, the less of Undertown they'll have to work with when they move on from Undertown to whatever else they have planned for Chicago.”
“You only intend to use them in Undertown?”
“Of course. I'm not going to firebomb Wolfram and Hart's offices. It wouldn't do anything, anyway, in the long term. Kill a dozen of their Lawyers and they'll have every opening filled within a week. At most. Leaving aside the Standard Perpetuity Clause.”
“Standard Perpetuity Clause?”
“Even death isn't a way to leave working at Wolfram and Hart. If they decide they require your services or skills, they simply bring you back to keep working. Anyone who works for them has it in their contract, once they reach a certain level. Not everyone who reaches that level and dies is utilized, but it's still there.”
“If the authorities find out about your possession of these grenades, I will be forced to throw you under the bus, you do understand that?”
“Perfectly. But I am quite confident that I can evade the authorities on this matter.”
Marcone, fingers still steepled, considered. “You were right to bring something like this to me – it is a lot of legal heat. But, then, you'll be the one taking the heat if it comes to that. And you do know this business. Very well. Buy what you need – though I trust you to consider a reasonable line of what is suitable. Undertown or nor, there are somethings that I simply will not allow into my city.”
“Of course.” As soon as he was on the elevator down, he called Mark Farrel on his cell. “Farrel? Yes. Marcone has given his approval. Contact the arms dealer and arrange a meeting.”
“Just White Phosphorous Grenades, or other things?”
“At the moment, that's the only specific thing I have in mind, but I'll no doubt have so more to order, when we meet.”
“Alright. I'll tell him.” Farrel hung up, and Wesley pocketed his phone.
He'd been back in his apartment for perhaps five minutes when there was a knock on the door. Which was odd. He'd set up wards. They weren't that great defensively, but they were good enough for at least warning him when someone was coming – and if they were human or not. He stood, setting down the tome he'd been going through and took a sword in one hand and double-checking that he did have a pistol holstered. Wesley opened the door, sword not raised entirely, but so it could be easily used if needed.
“Hey, Wesley!” Lindsey McDonald looked much the same as he always had, though his hair was somewhat longer, and he had some interesting tattoos – Wesley thought he recognized them, though what they were didn't come to him immediately, so he'd have to check – one on his neck and one on the back of each hand that he could see. “What's with the sword? As I recall, you were the one who wanted to get in touch with me.”
“When someone knocks on my door without my warning wards going off, I have a tendency to worry somewhat.”
“Oh, that would be these,” He pointed at the tattoo on his neck. “Keeps me invisible to any and all magical or technological surveillance.”
“Clever.” Now he remembered them. “But as I recall, only demons can use them.”
“It seems my evil hand,” He held up the hand in question, and there was just the faintest hint of sarcastic mocking in the words 'evil hand', “is demon enough for the tattoos to work.”
“Yes. Angel told me about that little episode. Of course, Lilah also shared the details of your rather dramatic departure from Wolfram and Hart.” Lindsey actually smirked a little at that. Wesley sidestepped so that Lindsey could enter and lowered his sword. He didn't actually invite Lindsey in, more out of habit these days than anything else.
The lack of invite, predictably, had no effect on Lindsey, and he walked into Wesley's apartment. “I heard you and Angel had some kind of falling out. Never expected you to leave L.A. Or for Angel to let you. Figured he'd realize he needed you and your skills too much. Forgive you for whatever the hell it was that happened between you. 'Course, I never expected to see a White Hat like you end up working for the Outfit.”
“These days, you'll find my 'hat', as you put it, is not so white, if it ever really was. Your 'hat' is hardly that white either, which is why I wanted to find you.” He chuckled darkly, self-deprecatingly. “And I suspect that Angel will never get around to truly forgiving me before I die. Los Angeles is his city. That's why you left it, even after you departed from Wolfram and Hart. And I'm not particularly interested in forgiving him, or his friends, even if they were interested in forgiving me.”
“His friends? Not your friends?” Not a particularly difficult change to pick up on, lawyer or not.
“Indeed. They're not my friends any longer. They made their choice.” There was no pain, or spite in his words, and he felt none, not any more. It was a fact of reality. He understood why they had made that choice, and it hadn't made dealing with the pain any easier when he'd felt it, but at this point he was past that. It was just something he had to deal with – like his expulsion from the Council four years earlier. A fact of his life. His new reality. He decided to proceed to the point. “I assume you know why I've been trying to contact you. And that your answer is yes, or you probably wouldn't have come to Chicago.”
“I'm not one of the good guys-”
“That is a given. Neither, really, is Marcone, or much of anyone who works at Oracle Securities.” Wesley remarked. “I'm still doubtful as to my own membership in the vaunted 'good guy' club, at this point.”
“But that doesn't matter. Wolfram and Hart....they are...” he scoffed a little, voice trailing off. “When I found out about what they were doing to those people. Where they got my evil hand from. I'm sick of them, but I'm not interested in really risking my life going toe to toe with them.”
“Marcone is a Freeholding Lord, and so is Wolfram and Hart. Assuming you don't go out and actively fight them and their lackeys, you're protected under the Accords. I wanted you to take charge of Oracle Securities' legal team. You know how Wolfram and Hart works, inside and outside of the courtroom. Going up against them in the courtroom. Defeating them at their own game.”
“A tempting prospect. I don't care about some greater good...but they...they're asking for a whole lot of payback from a whole lot of people. How much money are we talking?” Wesley gave him a figure.
“Marcone is hardly expecting to make a profit, but if there are times when you – or the others on your team - get money for Oracle by winning a case, then I'm sure I can see to it that some of that goes to you as a bonus.” No. Lindsey was a very gray person, and it was a testament to how very 'black' Wolfram and Hart was that he was so disgusted by it, and its practices. But money and power was what had drawn Lindsey to Wolfram and Hart in the first place, and while he couldn't pay Lindsey the kind of paycheck Wolfram and Hart could, there was no going back to the firm for him anyway. Leaving once he'd gotten away with. His second departure had burned all the bridges. Trusting him might be going a bit far, but trusting him to act in his own interest, and on his own hate for his former employers was enough.
“When can I start?”
There was, Wesley decided, a universal underlying insanity to all arms dealers.
Not that Wesley was throwing stones – he couldn't. These days, and especially in the darkest moments after his exile from Angel Investigations, when he'd sunk so low as to sleep with Lilah, loathing himself even at the height of the act, he doubted his own sanity.
But it wasn't a particularly intense degree of insanity. No. He'd done some business with an arms dealer named Emil when he'd still been in Los Angeles, from time to time, and like him, the man he was meeting with now had that same underlying insanity. A mixture of disregard for human life, the slightest hint of sadism, an unhealthy interest in all things that go 'boom'. They didn't even have the 'soulless' excuse. Then, so did every criminal and evil human, generally speaking. Hitler had made many deals with a great many demons and other evils during his reign, but he'd managed to keep a hold of his own soul. Which only made his crimes worse.
Trent Baldwin – probably not his legal name, but one he went by, none the less – was, however, a highly efficient man, from what Farrel had told him. He got what you asked for, no questions asked. Quickly. And, as a bonus, he was also knowledgeable – to a point, anyway – about the supernatural. He wasn't an expert, but he'd seen things.
“White Phosphorous Grenades, incendiary rounds, Dragon's Breath shells.” He said, “I can handle that easily enough, get them to you within a week, at most. Anything else?”
“I need an easily concealable multiweapon of some kind.” Wesley said. “Including a stake launcher or something like it.”
Baldwin nodded, considering. “I might have something that could suit your needs. The stake launcher would need to be attached – not a difficult proposition – but otherwise...” He got up and went over to a cabinet. They were meeting in the man's penthouse suite in downtown Chicago. Dealing weapons across the globe was a risky business, both in terms of legal ramifications, and in terms of the risk from your competitors or from disappointed clients. But it was also highly lucrative. Baldwin came back with a wrist-guard of some kind and put it on. He stood and held his arm down. A sword slid out, from a previous collapsed state smoothly into his hand. “Collapsible sword. Usually comes with a grappling hood launcher, but we can swap that out for a stake launcher, if you need that.” He took it out, and handed it to Wesley. “Here, give it a test run. This is my showpiece copy, but I'll get you a separate one with the rest of your order, if you decide it works for you.” Wesley put it on and stood to test it, putting some room between himself and Baldwin. The man's bodyguard tensed a little, but didn't draw his gun. It was a fluid motion, and it only took a careful flick of the wrist, really, to get it to come out. His hand closed around the handle easily after that, and he gave it a few experimental swings. Excellent balance as well.
“I'll take it.” He – and he found himself wishing he didn't have to – took the device off and gave it back to Baldwin. “How much for the whole lot?”
It wasn't cheap, but then, it wasn't his money, per se, and he was preparing for war. Better to spend the money and buy weapons you won't need but can use later then hoard it and not have weapons you need, and thus lose people you can't